Russell Clemings, Author Random House (NY) $28 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87156-416-0
Irrigation systems throughout the world have turned portions of many deserts green and in the process helped feed Earth's growing population. Environmental journalist Clemings persuasively argues here that in spite of this success, our water-use practices in arid regions are creating a major environmental catastrophe. He shows that the desert soil is becoming unfit for crops and that trace elements have begun to accumulate in such massive quantities that wildlife is being killed and deformed. Although much attention is paid to California, also discussed are environmental problems in Australia, China, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Turkey. Clemings is at his best when he documents the absurd outcomes of frustrating clashes between science and politics. An example is the federal government's decision to spend $226 million to build a high-tech plant to desalt Colorado River water when simple changes in irrigation practices could accomplish the same thing, while increasing crop yields, for about a tenth of the cost. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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